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Ten Ways to Make a Difference in Your Practice

By Crystal Smith, RDH

Not everything you do to improve your practice needs to involve tens of thousands of dollars or insane hours. Below is a list of ten simple things you can do that will make a difference for you, your patients, and your staff.


  1. Improve Your Leadership Skills: Managers manage. Bosses boss. But leaders inspire, motivate, create a vision and lead others to accomplish great things. Read the book Leadership and Self Deception and/or attend a leadership seminar. Go to http://www.arbinger.com/en/home.html
  1. Effectively Communicate: Enhance your communication skills. Try joining the Toastmaster Club. Go to http://www.toastmasters.org/ 
  1. Appreciate Your Staff. Most employees will do the bare minimum to keep their job, but they will go above and beyond if they feel appreciated. Learn more by reading The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton, or 555 Ways To Reward Your Dental Team by Dr Joe Blaes & Dr. Nate Booth. Go to http://www.natebooth.com/dental.asp 
  1. Exceed Patient Expectations: “Many practices say their most important job is satisfying the patient. But satisfying the patient is simply the minimum requirement for staying in business. Therefore, don’t seek to satisfy; seek to ‘wow’ them. Wow means creating patient enthusiasm and delight. It means giving patients dramatically more value than they expect – whether measured by price, performance, quality or service. You know you are succeeding when you inspire your patients to go out and tell others about your practice.” (Adapted from Intuit’s operating values). Are you “wowing” your patients? If you are not sure, then you are probably not, but you may consider surveying them to find out for sure. Ask this key question: “How likely are you to refer a friend or family member to our practice?” (Have them score their answer on a scale of 10, with 1 being not at all likely and 10 being extremely likely. An average score of 7 or less means you need to make serious improvements.)  Seek their feedback to help you improve practice operations and the patient experience in your office. Also, FYI: In order to “wow” your patients, your staff will need to feel the same way. 
  1. Personally Connect with New Patients: Send every new patient a personal note welcoming them to you practice and thanking them for choosing you. Track where all of your new patients come from. Call or send a note to thank every existing patient that refers a new patient to you.  For those who refer several new patients, consider sending them a small gift (e.g. movie tickets, a coffee mug, flowers, gift certificates, etc.). For additional information on marketing for new patients, go to www.newpatientsinc.com and order “Unlimited New Patients” volume V3. 
  1. Utilize The Internet: Most patients today are using the Internet to look up phone numbers, find practices and, most importantly, research the practice before choosing it. Create a website that represents your practice. Center it around what sets you apart from other practices. Send your existing patients newsletters and recall reminders via email.  E-mailed newsletters are a cost effective means of expressing appreciation for your patients and reaffirming to them that they have made the right choice in choosing you and staying with you. Text messaging is another effective tool for recall and appointment reminders. 
  1. Extend Your Hours: Modern society is all about convenience.  Anything that makes it easier for patients to see you is a good way to keep current patients and attract new patients. Early morning appointment times are attractive to business professionals, who, as a general rule, keep their appointments and are conscientious about paying their bills. The early evening hours (viz., past 5:00 p.m.) are usually more convenient for mothers and their children. 
  1. Look Professional:  Studies show that a dentist who wears a shirt and tie under a white lab coats with his name embroidered on it experiences an increase in net profits from 5 to 10 percent. Have your team wear professional attire with name tags. It adds credibility to the practice. 
  1.  Call Patients after Treatment: Calling your patients within 24 hours of their treatment.  Besides showing them that you care, it further builds trust and rapport. Moreover, they may provide you feedback that will help you better understand how to address their needs in the future and/or treat patients with similar needs. 
  1. Extend Answering Service to Increase New Patient Flow: Purchase a cell phone for the office. Forward all calls after hours and on weekends to this phone, and pay a staff member to answer the phone. You may want to rotate this assignment among the staff members.


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